There is always something to complain about. Choose not to complain! In essence that is what Paul was saying to Euodias and Syntyche in Philippians 4. Can you not hear Paul saying to these two ladies, “Stop! Just stop!”?
Paul continues to unfold the biblical pattern for thinking that transforms worry and complaining into peace and joy. First, replace complaining with rejoicing! “Rejoice in the Lord alway; and, again, I say, rejoice.” That is an active choice every believer must make. “Be not overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good.” But how can we rejoice when everything is falling apart this year? Notice, the verse says, “Rejoice…in the Lord!” Surrounded by circumstances that are crushing in around us, we rejoice as we consider all that the Lord has done, is doing, and will do for us. He died for us, paid our debt, has given us the Holy Spirit, leads us through the valley of the shadow of death and into green pastures, and gives us hope—anticipation for eternity with Him. Yes, we can shout for joy as we refocus on Him.
“Let your moderation be known until all men. The Lord is at hand.” Moderation or reasonableness should characterize relationships with others. As we walk each day realizing our Lord is by our side, His presence will be obvious to those we encounter.
“Be careful for nothing” or stop worrying about anything. How can that be? Worry and fear are inevitable when we stare into the face of difficulty, recognizing we are no match for the giants charging in on us. Just as David faced Goliath in the strength of the Lord, so we, too, can declare the battle is the Lord’s! Remember, “the Lord is at hand!” He is always by our side to help in time of need.
“In everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” Pray. Thank God for everything that is happening. Everything? Yes, everything. God is in control. Was God with Joseph when he was unjustly thrown into prison? Was God with the children of Israel when they were trapped in by the Red Sea and mountains with the Egyptians closing in on them? Was God with Stephen as the angry mob picked up stones to hurl at him?
And, when we rejoice and live our love for Christ before others, stop worrying, pray, and express our thanks to God, an amazing thing happens. The peace of God overwhelms our hearts. It surpasses understanding! And it guards our hearts while facing further attack. We rest securely in the arms of Jesus. What better…safer place could there be?
Paul, then, reminds us to redirect our thinking. Instead of dwelling on all the negativity and self-pity, contemplate things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, praiseworthy. Yes, there is always something to complain about; but choose not to complain. Rather, think on these things.
May we be encouraged by these principles and promises during this Thanksgiving season.